by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Hunter Pence has long been a solid option, as he is a career .285 hitter who has now posted five consecutive seasons of 20+ HR. That said, 2013 was easily a career for the outfielder, posting the following numbers:
629 At Bats
.283 Batting Average (178 Hits)
27 Home Runs
22 Stolen Bases
.339 On Base Percentage
.483 Slugging Percentage
Both the home runs and stolen bases were career highs. While its not like he wasn’t solid all season, Pence was particularly hot in September as he hit .293 with 11 HR (tied for the league lead), 32 RBI (6 more than anyone else), 23 R (second in the league) and 2 SB.
It was a tremendous run and it helped Pence net a 5 year, $90 million contract to remain in San Francisco. The question now is not only if he can live up to the contract (which does seem a little bit excessive), but if he can match his 2013 production.
The power has been a constant for Pence, but there were definitely concerns as he moved out of a hitters ballpark and into a much more pitcher friendly environment. There was evidence of a “struggle”, as 17 of his 27 HR came on the road.
Can we expect him to match a 17.5% HR/FB away from home? It’s not an unreasonable mark, though he owns a career 15.2% mark after playing in Philadelphia and Houston. Last year’s total is likely his ceiling, and falling back into the low 20s is much more realistic.
As for the SB, the past few seasons Pence simply hasn’t been running as much as he did earlier in his career. He got off to an impressive start, going 14-for-14 in the first half, before swiping just 8 in the second. Considering he had only once before eclipsed 15 SB in a season, the second half may be closer to reality. Even if he does run more, anticipating more than 15 is hard to do.
So far we are looking at a 20/15 outfielder, which certainly bring value, though it’s not the 27/22 player he was in 2013.
The rest of the numbers you can almost write down now, as he has long proven to be capable of .280/90/85. Could there be some variation? It’s possible, but chances are there isn’t going to be much.
So what’s the bottom line? Don’t buy Pence based on his strong September or overall gaudy 2013 numbers. If you do that you are likely going to overpay. Value him like the player he was prior to 2013, because chances are that’s who you are going to get.